Word count: 500
*In response to Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer In a Day”
By B.A. Sarvey
It seems a lifetime ago, that day we awaited the sun. I hope you’ve forgotten the childish incident on Venus. I hope it doesn’t haunt you, as it has haunted me these past fifteen years. I am the boy who shoved you into the closet. I am the boy responsible for depriving you of what you wanted most—a glimpse of that bright penny in the sky.
I write to ask your forgiveness, selfishly unburdening myself. What began as a careless prank any nine-year-old boy might have played, became a life-altering event—a prank born of innocent ignorance, spite, jealousy, potentially perpetrated by any one of us. But it was me. You talked of the sun like it harbored your very spirit. At nine, the rest of us had never seen it, could not imagine the reality of it. We scoffed at your shy comments. ‘What do you know? You act as though you’re special, superior. Like you own The Sun. We bet you’ve never actually seen it.’ Despite sharing five years of schooling, we didn’t know you any more than we knew the sun. We resented, envied, ostracized you. Nobody thought to befriend you.
Afterwards, I couldn’t admit, even to myself, that I was smitten, my actions guided partly by an awkward attempt to make you notice me, impress you, as inept male-children often try to do. Your pale hair enchanted me; your aloofness spoke a challenge. Young though I was, I was torn between worshipping your differentness and wanting to yank it from you, remove the vulnerable piece so you would be like the rest of us: Acceptable. The gray rains inundating our daily lives were just that—part of our lives. But you inexplicably shied away from rain, feared water spattering your head as though it would shatter you.
In the end, I shattered you. Sorry is inadequate. The prank was never meant to go so far. Excitement over the sun-event made us forget you were locked in the closet, Margot. I remembered too late. The sun had come and gone. Opening the door, I saw your spirit ebbing, puddling on the floor like so much rain. You wouldn’t, or couldn’t speak, didn’t look at me, couldn’t hear my apology.
The sun-event was disappointing, as such anticipated things are—imbued with exaggerated expectations. Deflated, none of us could imagine why you placed such enormous weight on such brief respite, viewed from underground. The next day, you were gone. Withdrawn from school. Soon after, returned to Earth. But never gone from my thoughts.
Six months ago, I emigrated to Earth. Earth-dwellers are accepting of me, as we never were of you. In contrast to Venus’s ash-colored world, Earth’s hues and sunlight astonish me. I understand, now why your spirit was entwined with sunshine. I don’t expect you to forgive me. Why would you, when I cannot forgive myself. Still, I reach out in friendship, as I should have before, wishing you well.